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I am a huge fan of hip-hop recording artist Common. I initially loved him solely for his music, but after reading his autobiography One Day It’ll All Make Sense, I grew to love and respect him as an individual man. A romantic man.
Below are excerpts from One Day It’ll All Make Sense that illustrate Common’s lessons learned from various relationships:
1. Love when it’s unpopular.
“I was living in Dallas with Erykah, eating the same food, even dressing alike. My boys back in Chicago would see pictures of me in magazines and call me up to clown.” pg 215
Oftentimes there is overwhelming pressure from men to keep other men from falling in love. Most of my male clients equate love to femininity or being “soft”. Love is the complete opposite of “soft”. It is risky, bold and fearless. Being in love speaks volumes about your ability to be an independent thinker and deviate from your comfort zone. Be the Alpha Male that you’re meant to be.
2. Love yourself to be the best for your lover.
“I loved Erykah so hard that I didn’t have any love left for myself. Erykah is a strong woman who is set in her ways. I felt immense pressure to do right by the relationship. I started feeling that sacrifice was what I needed to do to be a good man. So when I needed to go to the studio to write rhymes and she wanted me to do something around the house, I’d stay at the house. Both of these things were important, but there’s got to be a balance.” pg 218
Don’t ever compromise self-love to acquire love from someone else. A healthy relationship complements you. It does not eradicate you.
3. Heartbreak happens. Pick up the pieces and keep moving.
“What happens when the person you love tells you they no longer love you? What happens to the love you have that you can no longer express? You send that love into the skies. You keep your thoughts in a good place. You do your best.” pg 220
Everyone will experience heartbreak at least once in their life. The key to overcoming heartbreak is taking in the experiences (good and bad) of the relationship and deciding what you will and will not carry with you into the next relationship. Don’t harbor negativity and rob yourself of an amazing relationship because of a past relationship.
4. Understand there’s a time and place for everything, especially new relationships.
“I invited Taraji to this thing for my Common Ground Foundation in 2005, and from there we started seeing each other. I’m not sure our relationship ever really had a chance. She met me at one of the most difficult times of my life, as I was watching my close friend Jay Dee pass away. She supported me through it all, and I’ll always love her for that.” pgs 248-249
I’ve rarely come across a situation in which someone was emotionally vulnerable and was still able to successfully build and sustain a new relationship. There is a time and place for love. Sometimes you selfishly use someone during hardships because they’re convenient for you. Ultimately the person who extended their help to you during those hardships is heart broken when you overcome those hardships and move on to a new phase in your life. Be cautious of starting a new relationship during emotional vulnerability.
5. Determine your ideal image in the eyes of your lover.
“What do women see in me? I hope they see their idea of a real man, one who is loving, open-hearted, and expressive. At the same time, I hope they see a n*gga who’s gonna be strong, who’s going to be the man of the house. He’ll lead when he needs to lead. He’s confident in being different, assured of himself in that way. He’s confident enough to be vulnerable, too. He’ll express his heart.” pg 268
How does your lover perceive you? My male clients are oftentimes stunned at the image their lover paints of them. Determine the type of man you want to be for your lover and act upon those ideals accordingly.
6. Establish what marriage means to you.
“This is my vision of marriage: it is the love that you share with another that enhances you both. You can become better students of God and children of the Lord; you can become better yous. You will support whatever dreams and visions each of you has for your life, and you can share common dreams for your future together. A spouse is somebody you can have fun with and argue with, someone with whom you can build a family.” pgs 270-271
I’ve witnessed too many of my male clients rush into marriage solely due to peer pressure from their lover, their lover’s family and their own family. It is almost impossible to make a marriage last without establishing relationship principles that are negotiable and non-negotiable. Once established, you and your lover can begin to understand what is most valued and appreciated in the relationship and use these principles as the foundation onto which longevity is built.
7. Listen to your lover.
“Love is in the details as much as it is in the dramatic gestures. I show my love for Serena in small ways. She told me she really loved the shoes the girl wore in the video for ‘I Want You,’ so I went and got her those. There’s a song we used to hear a lot when Serena and I first met, called ‘Bubbly’ by Colbie Caillat. It was her ringtone, too. Well, I was in the studio with Colbie one day and asked her to do an acoustic version and dedicate it to Serena and me.” pg 270
The art of listening is one that is rarely exercised, especially in the “microwave society” we live in today. Learn your lover’s interests. Surprise them by acknowledging those interests- at random. Develop consistent reinforcements that will remind your lover that you are actively listening to their interests.
Ree “The (REE)lationship Guide” is a graduate of Clark Atlanta University. She is a contributing writer for YourBlackWorld.net and BlackLikeMoi.com. Follow her on Twitter: @iDateDaily